Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Institute for Near East Policy
10 February '10
(A very complex country with many different forces in conflict. The despots may yet lose. Two more related articles are linked below)
February 11, the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, is the most important official holiday in Iran. The public faces of the opposition Green Movement, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi, have called for street demonstrations to mark the occasion. Meanwhile, government officials at every level have warned against such protests, threatening tough action against any participants. In this tense atmosphere, what are the prospects that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will agree to political compromise?
The rhetoric on both sides has grown more heated in recent days. Gen. Hossein Hamedani -- commander of the Muhammad Rasoul Allah Army, an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) branch in charge of Tehran security -- warned that "anyone who protests against the government on February 11 is not part of the Iranian people, and we dare to say that he is foreigner's agent." On the opposition side, Mousavi gave a February 2 interview in which he argued that the 1979 revolution did not end despotism in Iran. "[W]e have been too optimistic about the revolution," he said, implying that the Islamic Republic has deep flaws in its very structure.
Pressure on Khamenei
After the surprising violence on December 27, 2009 -- the Shiite holy day of Ashura -- Khamenei faced intense pressure from government moderates to make at least minimal concessions with the opposition and extinguish the crisis. For example, moderate conservatives in the Majlis issued a report linking Said Mortazavi, former general prosecutor of Tehran, to the torture of prisoners in Kahrizak detention center. They argued that if the government takes action against such notorious hardliners, it will be able to forge a compromise that ends the protest movement.
These relative moderates seem to believe that some concessions are necessary to prevent the imminent demonstrations from spiraling out of control and eclipsing the Ashura violence. They also hope to prevent erosion of the Ahmadinezhad government's legitimacy outside Tehran and in the eyes of citizens who have remained passive thus far. In addition, they seem to believe that without compromise, the regime will do even more harm to its global image and perhaps increase international pressure on Iran.
(Read full report)
Related: The Basij Resistance Force: A Weak Link in the Iranian Regime?
How to Assess Political Fissures in Iran